APUS Alumni Stories: Breaking Records in Academia

Author: Melanie Conner
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By Melanie Conner, APUS Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison and Elisa Nelson, APU Graduate

Elisa Nelson APU academia
Elisa Nelson

At the age of 13, Elisa set herself a goal: to finish high school by the age of 15. Elisa graduated as the youngest alumni from Utah Connections Academy in 2015, and she also received her school’s first Sterling Scholar award in English.

Elisa says, “I was an advanced student, and they had the resources to challenge me because of individualized learning options.” She credits her high school’s vice principal for introducing her to American Public University.

Start a degree program at American Public University.

Because Elisa was already familiar with online learning through her high school classes, she looked forward to attending college at an online institution. At the age of 19, Elisa completed her bachelor’s in political science magna cum laude from American Public University, and her conferral is scheduled for June 1, 2020.

She also has a minor in business administration and an undergraduate certificate in strategic leadership. To celebrate her birthday later this month, she will embark on the next stage of her academic journey: continuing her education at APU in a master’s in international relations and global security.

After completing her master’s degree, Elisa plans to further her academic career by obtaining a doctoral degree in business and a doctoral degree in psychology. After completing her doctoral degrees, she plans to teach in those subjects she loves: political science, business, and psychology.

Elisa says that she also wants to go into business. She says, “I find the entire idea of a large corporation fascinating in respect to our society, to the point where I want to be a part of it.” She says that her dream career is in the realm of executive business administration.

Life as a University Ambassador

While attending APU, Elisa had the honor of being listed on the Dean’s List and is also a member of the University Ambassador program. She says, “I am so proud of the fact that the school I am graduating from is APU. There are so many aspects of online education that are futuristic, and they prepare all students of APU and AMU for a life in the fast-paced times that we live in.”

As a University Ambassador, Elisa enjoys talking about the university in her community and among those she meets. She notes that online education has helped a lot of people make it possible in their lives to go to school when attending traditional classes would not fit their lifestyle.

Elisa says, “I have met many amazing instructors that have the same passion I do for the subject that my peers and I have studied, and for that, I feel like my entire educational experience has been exemplified. Furthermore, having free books and having comparatively low tuition prices makes APU even more possible, and I have been really grateful for that as well.”

Elisa enjoyed many of her APU courses, but she says that National and Transnational Justice was one of her favorites. She says that it really brought the conversation in forum discussions, lessons and the course into circling around topics in the changing political system today.

Elisa also loved her Senior Seminar in Political Science. She found the course to be refreshing, giving her the chance to take a combination of all that was learned in her political science program and applying that information toward solving real-world problems and analyzing different political events.

Elisa says, “I have really enjoyed the vast and well-rounded information that was covered in my classes. I have learned so much, and that knowledge has applied not only to my academic career, but I’ve also had great discussions in my community.”

Helping Other Students in Academia

In the summer of 2019, Elisa was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for Utah Connections Academy. Elisa was invited to speak as an alumni keynote speaker at the 2018 Utah Connections Academy graduation, and she learned about the Board and submitted her nomination to join it.

Elisa is the youngest person in the national Connections Academy charter corporation to be elected and to serve as an alumna on the Board of Directors. She says, “The experience is already giving me vital knowledge in the charter and online school arena, and my goal is to make a difference for students in my role as a prior student.”

‘The World Is Full of Possibility’

Elisa describes herself as an art-oriented person who enjoys anything that expands the brain and the soul, saying, “When I’m not studying or volunteering, I like to travel, take a trip to the shooting range, cook, and watch horror movies. I have two lovely birds as well and soon I plan to learn how to fly.

“Life is like a blank chalkboard. We have to decide what we write on it, and why not write what we want?”– Elisa Nelson

While commencement has been canceled this year, she says that she plans to celebrate her big accomplishment with the people who have supported her along her journey, including her mother and her grandparents. To her fellow class of 2020, she says, “I want to wish all of my fellow peers a congratulations for this huge achievement. Always remember, keep reaching higher; the world is full of possibility.”

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APUS Alumni Stories: Breaking Records in Academia
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